Local community foundation looks back on big year of grants and giving

The foundation functions as a charitable endowment organization, which gives out grants for various philanthropic initiatives

The Columbia Valley Community Foundation has had a busy year.

“There’s so much that’s happened,” said foundation chair Roberta Hall. In 2014, the foundation added two new endowment funds, gave out about $100,000 in grants and has hired an interim executive director.

The foundation functions as a charitable endowment organization, which gives out grants for various philanthropic initiatives and to which donors can contribute.

The two new endowment funds are the Invermere Public Library Fund and the Sherry and Harvey Doerr Fund. The $100,000 in grants includes more than $64,000 in student awards (including the first Arnold Ellis Scholarships, with 39 students receiving $1,800 each to help further their studies or training) as well as more than $32,000 in Community Fund grants. The Community Fund grants went to organizations such as the Columbia Bains Environmental Education Network (CBEEN), the Arts Council, the Greenways Trail Alliance, the Health Arts Society, the Invermere Companion Animal Network (ICAN), the Steamboat Mountain Music Festival, the community garden project in Radium Hot Springs, the Windermere District Historical Society’s digital database project, a Summit Youth Centre project to create a film on philanthropy, and the Wings Over the Rockies festival.

“The last four years have seen incredible growth for the foundation,” said Hall.

Wendy Rockafellow is the foundation’s interim executive director and the foundation now has office space up at the Lions Hall/Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce at the Crossroads.

Hall attributes the organization’s success to the commitment of its members.

“Everybody on the board is there because they want to give back to the community,” she said, adding the organization is always keen to add new directors or members, even those who just have time to help out with one project.

The foundation was incorporated in June 2001 and distributed its first grants in June 2002.

Besides the two new endowment funds, the foundation also has its Community Fund (including the Lynn A. Miller Bursary Fund, which merged with the Community Fund in 2009), the Children’s Legacy Fund, the Tom Sanders Memorial Fund, the Gordon Wilder Fund, the Kootenay Saving Community Fund, the Fairmont Family Fund, the Ann Tilley Memorial Fund, the Arnold Ellis Scholarship Fund, the Bidder Bursary Fund and the Opportunities for Youth Fund.

More than 50 local residents, representing the valley from Spillimacheen to Canal Flats, are members of the foundation, with seven of those members serving on its board of directors. Prior to 2014, the foundation gave out a total of more than $322,000 in grants.

The single biggest donation in the fund’s history was from former Canal Flats resident Arnold Ellis in 2012. Ellis donated $1.4 million from his estate to help valley residents get a chance at higher education.

The foundation currently has more than $3 million in endowment assets. Its annual general meeting is coming up at the Lions Hall on Monday, April 27th and the organization hopes the Summit Youth Centre’s film on philanthropy (which features the foundation) will be ready to play there.

To learn more about the foundation visit valleyfoundation.ca, contact Hall at 250-347-6404 or stop by the annual general meeting.